Lichens, Larkin Grimm, Extra Life | Empty Bottle | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader
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Lichens, Larkin Grimm, Extra Life 

When: Mon., Feb. 16, 9:30 p.m. 2009
I’m no fan of the term “freak folk,” but there’s no denying that Larkin Grimm is one freaky folkie. On her latest and best album, Parplar (Young God), gorgeously introspective ballads, simple acoustic-guitar figures, and clip-clopping rhythms collide with bizarre, high-pitched incantations, tart trumpet cries, playfully creepy vocal multitracking, and queasy, swooping violin; she warps and distends a hundred years of American folk with her riveting voice, which can jump from a murmur to a wail and flicker between what sounds like half a dozen different personalities. But as strange and unpredictable as the music is, it’s in her thoughtful lyrics that Grimm seems most fearless: the emotions are raw and unfiltered, the imagery blunt, and the relationships intense, confrontational, and dreamlike. She’s made a dense, dizzying record by stuffing ideas into it by the handful; they don’t all work, but the result is unmistakably original. Grimm is joined by Elizabeth Devlin on autoharp and John Houx on a Chinese zither called the guzheng. Lichens headline; Grimm and Extra Life open. —Peter Margasak

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